Game Over ServiceLink

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VaCAP Board

Coalition of Appraisers in Virginia at Virginia Coalition of Appraiser Professionals
Coalition of individual appraisers working together to unite, promote and protect the collective interests of all appraisal professionals in Virginia; to promote needed changes in laws, rules, regulations, policies and standards affecting all appraisers in Virginia; to observe and report the actions of regulatory, legislative, oversight, and standards-setting entities of the Commonwealth.
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Game Over ServiceLink - AMCs Appraisal Schedule Fees Made Public!

Now that ServiceLink fee schedule, indicating fees paid to appraisers and fees charged to the lenders, has been released to the public, there is absolutely no reason for in camera review…

We are sure you have heard the old saying what goes around comes around, right. Well, here we are again; The FTC vs Louisiana Real Estate Appraisal Board case has been brought back into the spot-light. As you may recall, the LREAB filed a civil case against the FTC in attempt to stop the case against them. That case was denied due to lack of jurisdiction. Then the LREAB filed against the FTC under the Administrative Procedure Act with the Middle District Court of Louisiana. The Middle District Court of Louisiana granted a motion to stay the case on July 29, 2019. To refresh your memory, you can view that order here.

As expected, the FTC has filed an appeal stating the Middle District Court does not have jurisdiction over administrative proceedings. Law360 wrote a brief summary of the proceedings on September 27th. See the article here if you are a subscriber.

So here is where this case takes an interesting turn. As part of the LREAB defense, some documents have been subpoenaed as evidence. ServiceLink received a subpoena and has complied, however ServiceLink has asked the judge for an “in camera review”. In case you are unfamiliar with that term, in essence, keep the documents out of the public to avoid harm to the supplying party.

You can view the ServiceLink motion here.

Well the documents have to do with fees to appraisers and fees charged to the lenders. There should not be anything confidential or proprietary in those documents; that is of course unless ServiceLink has something to hide. Apparently they do. Danny Wiley, the Chief Valuation Officer even gave a written affidavit certifying the proprietary and confidential nature of the documents. See Danny Wiley’s declaration as Exhibit C in the motion linked above. If you have ever met Danny Wiley, or interacted with him on social media, you have to agree, Danny Wiley certifying to anything is downright hilarious!

This has been discussed in great length on forums and social media over the past few days. Early Saturday morning, VaCAP received what appears to be some of the confidential documents ServiceLink is trying so hard to keep out of the public eye. Like any good journalist, we will never reveal our source, but we will say ServiceLink must have some pretty disgruntled employees to release such a document. VaCAP has not confirmed the legitimacy of the documents; however, we have no reason to believe they are false.

Take a look at what is now out there in the public eye; Appraisal Fees for 50 states, broken down by product type, divided into tiers. Tier 1 is for properties market value (MV) between $0 to $1,000,000, Tier 2 for MV between $1,000,001 to $2,000,000, Tier 3 for MV between $2,000,001 to $4,000,000, and final tier for ALL MV. This “one size fits all” pricing structure may not meet either of the two presumptions of compliance outlined in 129E of the Truth in Lending. Some might even say these documents are very clear evidence of price fixing. We all know price fixing is illegal.

If you take a look at the FTC’s website and view the public recordings, the motion to grant the in camera review for ServiceLink has not been granted and published. In fact other appraisal management companies have attempted to quash the subpoena entirely and have been unsuccessful. It appears some appraisal management companies are now seeking in camera review of their documents. As of this writing, no motion for in camera review of subpoenaed documents has been granted. Honestly, appraisal management companies using either presumption of compliance in 129E of TILA have nothing to hide. No confidential information exists. No proprietary information exists. It is either market data or a published survey. What is confidential or proprietary about either of these methods? Everyone should have the same results. What are the appraisal management companies hiding?

Could the FTC be considering a complaint against the appraisal management companies for price fixing? It sure looks that way.

Now that these documents have been released to the public, there is absolutely no reason for in camera review.

Game over ServiceLink…
 

Image credit flickr - Ithmus
VaCAP Board

VaCAP Board

Coalition of individual appraisers working together to unite, promote and protect the collective interests of all appraisal professionals in Virginia; to promote needed changes in laws, rules, regulations, policies and standards affecting all appraisers in Virginia; to observe and report the actions of regulatory, legislative, oversight, and standards-setting entities of the Commonwealth.

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38 Responses

  1. Avatar Kimberly DeFilippis says:

    I gather these 15 pages are fees charged to the lender. Where are the fees paid to the appraiser?

    8
  2. Avatar Taunya says:

    Holy cow those fees in Oregon are high. Based on what they offered for a file are getting more than 50 percent of that fee. That’s ridiculous! They should be forced to tell the consumer how much the appraisal fee is and how much the management fee is.

    Every amc and banks have these fee sheets because of TRID. The banks have to disclose a fee at the loan application and it cannot be changed after the fact. I’m not sure how they can call it price fixing when the government set up the rules and not every company has the same prices.

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  3. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    For CA (Tier 1), a $580 1004 fee is still $20 below the standard VA fee ($600), or $70 below if new construction ($650). In addition, units are $770 versus a VA price of $850.

    When per Dodd Frank a government known appraisal fee schedule can be used for C&R fee compliance, without even considering the add on appraisal guidelines, reduced time to complete, increased scope of work, etc. they are not even close to being in compliance based on what THEY CHARGE the lender. Cut the fee in Half (AMC split ?), and assume other AMC’s are similar, and its a cruel joke that has been playing out for a decade and over 20+ million times.

    Seek the truth.

    12
    • I’ve posted this stuff before. Derived from federal civil service GS pay scales. Adjusted for self-employment and similar vacation benefits. Just skip to the last pages for a summary. “Reasonable” fees based on skill sets and experience of appraisers,

      http://www.mfford.com/html/c___r_fees.htm – These are from 2015. Updating to current GS scales required (add about 2% to 3% per year +-).

      By the way, let’s not ignore past confessions of guilt re non-compliance with DF C&R. Oddly it involves Louisiana of all states! http://www.workingre.com/amc-fined-over-cr-fees/

      I won’t speculate as to what FTC will do to ServiceLinks for their price-fixing. Keeping in mind these are fees cited to banks prior to specific properties ever being assigned to the AMC for placement.

      These are the fees that the Loan Officers tell borrowers for TRID disclosure purposes. This is specifically why we cannot renegotiate fees on highly complex transactions like we are supposed to be able to do.

      IF memory serves me correctly Mr. Wiley and I had some spirited written blog debates and a few phone discussions about C&R fees and minimum fees necessary to assure quality work; along with some discussions concerning REVAA. What a coincidence!

      1
  4. Bill Hattaway on Facebook Bill Hattaway on Facebook says:

    Recognized some names from that article. I assume the fee’s are not what the appraiser is paid.

    7
  5. Avatar SB says:

    This makes me sick
    ITS BEEN A DECADE PLUS OF PURE EXTORTION.

    Thank you Andrew Cuomo

    18
  6. Avatar CJK says:

    I know an appraiser who was paid $400 for an appraisal report, the home owner told her that she was charged (not closing cost) $1800 by the lender for the appraisal report. Is that what the lender paid the AMC (or did they pocket some of it) CRAZY!!!!!! If they truly want to cut cost, cut the AMCs!!!!! Have someone who is not on the production side order the appraisals, how hard is that. My clients do this everyday.

    12
  7. Avatar Raymond says:

    When, if ever, will the appraisers, regain the control of their fees over the AMC/Lenders?????? This ServiceLink notification is a joke.

    9
  8. Avatar SB says:

    An appraisal management company shall be presumed to comply with this Rule if:

    the appraisal management company compensates the appraiser in an amount that is reasonably related to recent rates paid for comparable appraisal services performed in the geographic market of the property being appraised. In determining this amount, the appraisal management company shall review the factors below and make any adjustments to recent rates paid in the relevant geographic market necessary to ensure that the amount of compensation is reasonable:
    (1) the type of property;
    (2) the scope of work;
    (3) the time in which the appraisal services are required to be performed;
    (4) appraiser qualifications;
    (5) appraiser experience and professional record; and
    (6) appraiser work quality.

    APPRAISAL FEES SHOULD NEVER BE CONTINGENT UPON THE UNDERLYING VALUE OF THE PROPERTY.

    ………YET THEY ARE……..

    8
  9. Baggins Baggins says:

    This company provides appraisers fee schedules to fill out. Per other comments, no these companies usually don’t cut fees in half or have any sort of congruent approach to what they pay appraisers. The standard amc business model is they do not pass any cost savings to consumers and therefore maintain a financial incentive to assign the majority of work to the lowest priced appraiser provider and then pocket the difference. It’s pure junk and unearned fees, and it’s legal for this one peculiar company type even though such activity would be illegal for many other realms of mortgage service providers. It’s so successful, enter hybrids, evals, and raised deminis to justify it.

    They all do this, almost every single amc operating in the USA operates this way. The amc drives the numbers up on the mortgage side, drives the numbers down on the appraiser side, pockets the difference. This is racketeering, collusion, fraud, nobody cares. Just look at how many appraisers continue to accept amc orders. Colluding with amc’s to defraud consumers has gone mainstream and nobody blinks an eye, not even the appraiser groups.

    The never ending mb complaints about the quality of their other services is a great read.
    https://www.yelp.com/biz/servicelink-aliquippa

    My vote is for a national audit of every single amc over the past 10 years. We all know they operate this way. Nobody wants to do anything about it and everyone knows what’s going on. If appraisers are surprised about this, those appraisers should consider asking more questions about how their clients are operating and take the blindfolds off.

    8
  10. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Oh come on.

    The fine, per the Dodd Frank, which is public law 111-203, for NOT paying C&R is $10k per day, per occurrence of not paying C&R, until they pay the appraiser the C&R.

    The law with C&R went into effect in April 2010.

    Do you think an AMC will survive the fine mandated in the D/F if they had to pay the fine based on appraisals you did in 2010 that you were not paid C&R?

    Nobody is guilty of anything, when the expense starts shutting down “supported” industries.

    Give me a break.

    5
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      It has the potential to be the largest class action lawsuit in history.

      Please advise when the fictitious CFPB Reg Z C&R safe harbor interpretation will be rescinded.

      Mercury Network, Appraisal Scope, Appraisal Port, and other mismo compliant providers has a lot of data to illustrate the fee discrepancies. They are a party to this collusion. Ask them.

      The only people whom are kept in the dark about these consumer vs lender fee relationships are the appraisers and poorly informed consumers. Everyone else involved knows all about it. Unearned fee raking is the source of record setting business growth.

      The C&R rule will never be enforced because the fines would chase back to the lenders and title companies. Amc’s no longer keep it a secret they are subsidiary companies to larger entities providing a wide range of mortgage origination, title, insurance, and servicing related activities. We all know who the rules apply to, and whom they do not. It’s o.k. for everyone involved from the realtor to the mortgage heads to take a stab at the appraiser, they always get a free pass and anything goes. As long as the finger is pointed at the appraiser, valid accusation or not, the accusation stands. Nobody dares stand up for the appraiser, we have no protections.

      8
      • Avatar Anonymous says:

        That is only a safe harbor to a presumption of compliance. Presumptions can exist without supporting facts otherwise. Once there are facts in opposition to compliance, presumptions no longer exist.

        Read that cfpb interpretation very carefully, with that thought in mind of proof and evidence.

        3
        • Shaun Murphy Jr. on Facebook Shaun Murphy Jr. on Facebook says:

          I just can’t understand how these companies can hide their profits on the back of the appraiser..
          How is it legal for them to not disclose their fees on a HUD? Can anyone answer that?

          6
        • Shaun Murphy Jr. on Facebook Shaun Murphy Jr. on Facebook says:

          HB3619 has been read twice in the Senate, and has been officially introduced to committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs..

          It will not be long before AMC’s will finally have to DISCLOSE THEIR FEES, AND QUIT HIDING BEHIND APPRAISERS!!!

          Lenders that use an AMC, are going to have a lot of explaining to do, when borrowers compare GFE’s, and start asking “what is that $300 Appraisal MANAGEMENT charge, the lender down the street doesn’t have one on their estimate?”

          6
    • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      I’ve been saying that for years Anonymous, meaning the crime is so big, and the fines would be so high, that if enforced, the AMC model would collapse overnight.

      Seek the truth.

      6
  11. Avatar Warren Brooks says:

    I am not surprised by this. I did a great deal of tier 2 and 3 work for them here in Maryland and was not paid anything close to what is shown in the chart. I knew I was getting ripped but needed the work.

    10
  12. Avatar SB says:

    “Angie’s List” now trying to become an AMC. I just hung up on them. They blast the appraisal order to multiple appraisers at the same time and then charge $20 to your credit card for the lead regardless if you accept it or not.

    Say goodbye to your website SEO ranking if you sign up with them.

    All of this appraiser monetization bullshit has to end…..

    10
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Home Advisor is doing something similar. Neither of them are registered amc’s. But also consider the possibility they are referring non federally related transaction requests, like people looking for appraisers for divorce, estate, etc.

      Those lists are just hook sites anyways where if you dare to give them your information, something your phone is likely to do without much permission needed if you’re on a mobile, they immediately monetize your data and sell it across the world. If you’re a service provider and subscribe, they will shield you from negative reviews, while also similarly monetizing your data.

      I know because I issued a scathing negative review for Bestway Installation services which was never posted. The benefits of having paid into those companies is they censor negative review content. Citizens whom refer to review sites like that are not getting a truthful picture of what’s happening.

      Read about it yourself if you like. There are still some websites out there where you can get truthful information about these matters, and this is one of them.

      https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/homeadvisor.com
      https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/angieslist.com

      2
    • FUBAR!! Angie’s List?! I will report them to the BREA if / when I have first hand knowledge.

      2
  13. Avatar Cotton Cornell says:

    Service link has never paid those fees to appraisers. They were blasting orders with simpleton fees last year until I asked to be removed from their list. If I recall the fees offered for a 2055 was $200 and $300 for a 1004. Why do they deserve over 50% of the fee? AMCs provide zero benefit other than to place the order. Who works for fees like that? Clearly enough of you appraisers were willing to be scammed! Their chief appraiser needs to be investigated on fraud charges. What a scumbag! The AMC’s only exist because we allow it. Time to end the scam! Those in DC need to be made aware that in the end it is the consumer who is getting scammed!

    13
  14. Shaun Murphy Jr on Facebook Shaun Murphy Jr on Facebook says:

    If appraisers quit working for AMC’s, they would cease to exist….

    Man – I hope they all go down!! LMAO crying

    12
  15. Avatar Don says:

    ProTeck order today: Due Date: 10/10/2019
    Fees collected by Vendor: $295.00
    Services Requested: Single Family URAR

    6
  16. Avatar Don says:

    Here is another ProTeck order today:
    Due Date: 10/9/2019
    Fees collected by Vendor: $200.00
    Services Requested: Driveby Appraisal (2055)

    6
  17. Avatar Margie says:

    I do BPOs for them. Where is the chart that shows what Servicelink charges the client for my work? Are you aware they sometimes substitute BPOs for appraisals?

    4
  18. Avatar Steve Schmidt says:

    It would be simple to destroy the AMC system. All lenders need to do is create their own panels.

    7
  19. By the way, does anyone reading this information think it is still a good idea to work for a company like ServiceLinks anymore? Take a stand, people! Send a message that cannot be misunderstood in the Board Room or executive offices of either SL OR their clients.

    By the way, it is the lender that is required to assure C&R fee payments under DF. AMCs are their agents. Every time SL cites a low fee TURN THEIR CLIENT INTO CFPB and ASC for DF non compliance.

    11
  20. Henrietta L Rawie on Facebook Henrietta L Rawie on Facebook says:

    We all know the lender pays nothing for this service, it is the borrower that are paying these fees.

    6
  21. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Fannie, Freddie investors fighting profit sweep get key court win September 09 2019, 9:46am

    A panel of federal appeals court judges in New Orleans overturned a ruling that backed the government’s right to take all of the mortgage giants’ profits. The judges also concluded that the structure of Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is unconstitutional because of job protections for the agency’s director.

    https://www.americanbanker.com/articles/fannie-mae-freddie-mac-investors-fighting-profit-sweep-get-key-court-win

    C U
    PIW
    technology fees
    SLAs
    Anti competitive
    Industry
    Top to bottom

    3
  22. Avatar Raymond says:

    I repeat, the AMC business model was designed for and by lenders and lender interest groups. The AMC has just continue the lenders dirty work for “fast and cheap appraisals” and hiding behind the veil of seeking independent quality professional appraisals. Yeah right, most of us, know better and THEY know it.

    0
  23. Avatar Rod Bien, ASA, IFA says:

    Hey Fellow Certified Appraisers…….. just charge by the hour like any other Licensed Profession that requires a college degree (Accountant, Architect, Engineer, etc). Heck, Auto Mechanics charge $85+ per hour, Plumbers and HVAC Techs about the same. Most Appraisers only charge in the $50’s per hour, which should be a lot more. When I quote, I tell the Client what my hourly bill rate is, and how many hours the assignment will take. Always keeping in mind the VA publicized fee schedule, because it seems pretty fair but still a little low.

    The minimum number of hours a cookie cutter Conv 1004 takes me is 8 hours, and more often up to 15 hours and more. Remember, the time clock starts every second you touch the assignment (research for quote, once awarded, go back and start building file, drive time, comp photos, property measure and photos, then begin answering the proven 400+ questions we are tasked with). Just say no to low fees…….. it’s as simple as that. Yes, I lose most bids, but let those low fee appraisers keep taking all the assignments because they are likely cutting corners in order to keep up the pace, and they will soon be discovered during an appraisal review of their poor quality work product perhaps completed for a loan which the Lender has to repurchase. Also, even though not required by my State, I often include my fee in the comments section top side of the Cost Approach page…….. that way the borrower knows the money trail. Posting our fees within the report should be a requirement in my opinion. Why do you think most AMC’s don’t want us to include our invoice with our appraisal submission?

    6
    • Avatar Bill Johnson says:

      That’s exactly what I used to do with my VA assignments that were often cancelled out of the blue Rod, but unfortunately as of April 1, 2019 they’ve in essence placed caps on what appraisers can charge for there services.

      “Cancelled Orders”
      Lenders must notify the assigned VA appraiser and the appropriate RLC when an order has been cancelled. VA allows appraisers to charge for time and work completed. Work completed prior to setting an appointment with notes in WebLGY will not exceed $50. When an appointment is made, and notes placed in WebLGY stating the date and time of appointment and with whom the appointment was placed prior to the cancellation, the fee will not exceed $175. Once the review of the interior of the property has been completed, the fee will not exceed 50 percent of the posted fee. When the appraiser believed the work for reasonable compensation is beyond 50 percent, the report will need to be fully completed and signed and uploaded in WebGLY for the full fee.”

      Why would any appraiser complete any amount of work on a VA assignment prior to the official setting of an inspection time if the maximum billable amount is $50? I have a VA $850 unit assignment that I’ve done little to no work because it was a pain to work out the schedule of 4 tenants. Long story short, it came together at the last minute (tomorrow), and I either have to work late tonight to gather a list of sales, or go see the property and plan a 2nd trip.

      Prior to this April change Rod, I would have no problem spending 5 hours on any report in advance of setting the schedule, and if cancelled my billable rate was understandably $100 per hour. Now, it’s all screwed up.

      Seek the truth.

      4
    • I agree re hourly. Just for fun, the 8 hours you cited would be $680 at the low-end auto mechanics rate. $800 at a conservative professional fee schedule of only $100 / hour, and $1,200 at a more prevailing hourly rate for NON EW work by appraisers ($150).

      Check last page of my old C& R fee suggested calculations from 2015 http://www.mfford.com/html/c___r_fees.htm (skip to very last page summary)
      Adjust for time and we are right at $150.

      That’s assuming a certified appraiser is required with 10-15+ years of experience. It could be much less for trainees only. Many of us have already been charging fees at or close to this-though not generally for cookie cutter work. It’s hard in my area to get above $550-$600 for non complex sfr work.

      4
  24. Baggins Baggins says:

    Other industries have more straightforward litigation and liability considerations. Auto mechanics is straight forward. There is an existing mechanical system, there are existing repair manuals, pricing charts, hours to repair tables.

    Until the various players in this industry face consequences for clear violations of law and policy, we can’t really expect there to be a straightforward justification for that sort of hourly billing or expect fair cancellation fees across the board.

    Per the topic of this article, if you are dealing with those scenarios with an amc, you are in an especially disadvantageous position. You complain on the amc, you lose all the lending clients they work with, not just one of them. Within an entire amc company, only one singular person is required to have a license, and they answer to both the amc management and the various lender managers first. You have no advocate and no hope of having an advocate unless you’re on the inside with an amc. There is nobody to complain on because an individual has no chance going against corporations of this size. When the amc has carved out especially high lender fees they have even more financial incentive to advocate for lenders first and even more incentive to drive down appraisers fees.

    Billing disclosure is not something to hold your breath for, it will mean absolutely nothing. Only separation of the billing can save us now. Disclosing on paper what is already a widely acknowledged open secret is not going to change any daily operational processes. When will anyone examine the differences with customer billing against appraiser compensation for non amc mortgage lending assignment work? It’s time to face the issues directly, the problem is co mingled billing.

    Not enough people read and participate in this blog or we would see more changes. Communicating behind closed doors on appraisers forums is fun but has a net effect of zero in this industry. Pretend you are a researcher from the outside. You end up at this blog first. Google the issue. Thank you for reading.

    5
  25. Avatar Eric Kennedy says:

    If anyone in this country is owed reparations.. it is the Independent Fee Appraiser. Class Action.

    0

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Game Over ServiceLink

by VaCAP Board time to read: 3 min